Futuristic partnership developing between UA, Crystal Bridges


When a Portland, Ore.-based artist needed help last spring constructing an exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, museum officials in Bentonville called upon the University of Arkansas.

To the rescue, UA art students cut hundreds of fern fronds out of emerald paper using a laser cutter, forming the backdrop for “Unfading Flowers,” a dimensional piece based on Emily Dickinson’s poem, “There is Another Sky.”


Collaboration between the museum and the university is becoming more common. Sometimes it’s spontaneous, but it’s highly intentional, and they’ve only begun to explore possibilities.

Students in the UA’s Tesseract Center, a game development and visualization studio, are designing a game-based virtual reality app to teach American history using “Winter Scene in Brooklyn,” an 1820 oil painting by Francis Guy, from the museum’s collection.

A university 3D printer was called for to create furniture for the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit and a reproduction of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Origami chair. Architecture students helped design and build the welcoming pavilion for a rare Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house, known as the Bachman-Wilson House, which was disassembled in New Jersey and reassembled in its entirety at Crystal Bridges in 2014.

In the upcoming spring semester, the museum’s leadership team will teach a new UA class, held at Crystal Bridges. Students will venture behind the scenes and discuss emerging issues for museums: the role of technology in an object-oriented field, ways art can drive economic growth and sustainable tourism, and best practices for presenting controversial art and subjects.

The museum will seek viewpoints and ideas from the students: What’s a museum’s responsibility for social good? How can they be relevant to diverse audiences? How can they best impact the public education system?

Students are interning at the museum, and graduates are finding careers. Facilities managers call each other for advice.

UA classes visit the museum library and borrow material via inter-library loan. And professors make use of museum art that is germane to what they are teaching — even calling upon art that’s in storage.

“We want the University of Arkansas present in every part of our work,” said Margi Conrads, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs and strategic art initiatives. “We’re always thinking of ways we can help students and how we can help those at the university do their job better. You can be in accounting, business or an environmental science major. There are things going on that are connected, and the beauty is that it’s all mutually beneficial.”

Read more: https://talkbusiness.net/2018/12/futuristic-partnership-developing-between-ua-crystal-bridges/


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